Protestant giving lags inflation

Contributions to the mainline American Protestant churches failed to keep pace with inflation last year, according to a compilation of figures released here by the National Council of Churches.

While inflation in 1979 was calculated at about 13 percent, Protestant church contributions were increasing only about 10 percent, reports Constant Jacquet, editor of the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches.

The data in the recently released financial report will appear in the 1981 issue of the yearbook. It covers 44 denominations with 40.9 million full or confirmed members, who made total contributions in 1979 of $8.1 billion, or $197 .44 per capita.

Continuing the trends of past years, local congregations kept about 80 percent of the gifts for their own use, and passed along about 20 percent for other mission and service programs.

The Southern Baptist Convention, with 13.8 million members, the largest Protestant body in the nation, received $2.2 billion in 1979, the largest amount received by any denomination. But per capita, it remains below average, increasing from $150.45 in 1978 to $166.01 last year.

As usual, several small denominations reported that per capita giving was much higher than the average. The highest were the 120,000 members of the Independent Fundamental Churches of America -- $731.94, up from $658.16 in 1978.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.